I still remember the day vividly. We’d been stewing for nearly five weeks following the NBA lottery which saw the Mavericks fall from third to fifth overall. The Mavericks were a clear lottery lock 10 games into the 2017-18 season but they fought for relevance through the All Star break. So draft day was one of resignation for most of the day. I worked from home that day and went to the gym early to burn off some frustrated energy. Leaving the gym and grabbing my phone I was overwhelmed by a flurry of alerts. Something was afoot as far as the Mavericks and Luka Doncic.
In retrospect, it’s clear that the deal had been in the works between the Hawks and Mavericks for at least a few days. But watching the news leak in real time was one of the most thrilling sports moments I’ve experienced since the 2011 NBA Championship. This tweet, essentially making the entire thing official, still gives me chills.
Atlanta and Dallas have agreed to a deal, league sources tell ESPN. They'll trade Nos. 3 and 5 picks, sending Luka Doncic to Dallas and Trae Young to Atlanta, sources said. Dallas will send Atlanta a future first.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 21, 2018
We’re likely to write and talk about this often as the years unfold. Pure sports joy is rare, given how complicated the world is and how many things play into games, the playoffs, and team building. This moment matters and it’s worth banging home again and again just how lucky we are to have witnessed it.
So what have we witnessed in just two abbreviated seasons with Luka Doncic at the helm? In a mere 126 games, Doncic is on pace for a Hall of Fame NBA career. The 21 year old’s rookie year put him in rare company, as he averaged 21 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 6 assists per game. This led to a runaway win in the Rookie of the Year vote, where he topped 98 out of 100 ballots.
Though his second season is not quite finished, Doncic’s continued to wrack up accolades. In December he collected his first NBA Player of the Month award for the Western Conference for his outlandish performances in October and November where he averaged 30.6 points, 9.9 rebounds, 9.6 assists and led Dallas to a 13-6 start. He went on to be voted as a starter in the All Star game, becoming the first Maverick player to start an All Star game since Jason Kidd in the 1995-96 season. Though the current season is on hiatus, Doncic is a lock for one of the three All-NBA teams as well. The last Maverick to make an All NBA team was Dirk Nowitzki in 2011-12.
There’s much more to come for Doncic in what should be a long and storied NBA career. For today though, we should look back fondly on these last two years. Time has a way of moving quicker than we realize.